ACT! 2011 - The string was not recognized as a valid datetime

Last week, I was asked to look into a problem by an ACT! Consultant in Australia. They have a client in New Zealand who is experiencing the following problem.

On starting ACT!, they get the following error:

The string was not recognized as a valid datetime. There is a unknown word starting at index 5

That’s not too bad, as after clicking OK, everything seemed ok. However when they try to schedule an activity, they got this error:

Resolution of the dependancy failed, type = "ACT.ULAvailControl" name = "Exception message is: The current build operation (build key Build Key{Act.UL.AvailControl, null}; failed. The string was not recognised as a valid Date Time. There is a unknown word starting at index 5. (Strategy type BuildPlanStratefgy, index 3)

They contacted Sage Australia tech support and were told:

Please be advised that it is a Locale, Data/Time specific issue and has been identified as a known issue with the software version for New Zealand and Mexico and is under investigation. We should get a fix for it in Service Pack 1 which may be couple of months away. In the mean time, you can follow the below step to work around the issue –

Close and open database [File > Close] without closing ACT completely.

You will be able to access the date/time related features without any problem. If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to this email or call Support

Obviously, as this problem only happens in those countries, there is a problem with those who didn’t beta test it prior to release.

I wondered who might have seen this, so I posted a message about it to the ACT! Community Forums and the LinkedIN ACT! Fanatics Group … the answer came on the LinkedIN group from José Roberto  dos Santos from Brazil. He said:

Change the Regional Settings in Windows Control Panel from "am" and "pm" to "AM" and "PM".

I am glad to report that this simple fix worked perfectly and I thought I’d post it here for others in those regions who have this error.